Hellfire Club
hellfire-club.jpg

Overview

The Hellfire Club originated in England in the 1760s as a social organization
for the elite of British society. The Club not only provided its members with
pleasures, often of sorts that violated moral standards of the time, but also
served as a means for the members to consolidate their influence over British
economic and political matters.

A number of the Club's most important members, led by the wealthy trading
company owner and former Member of Parliament Sir Patrick Clemens, and his
mistress, the renowned actress Diana Knight, emigrated to the colony of New
York in the 1770s, where they founded the new American Hellfire Club. Clemens
and Knight served as its first leaders under their Club titles of Black King
and Black Queen. The Club's headquarters was an abandoned church that stood on
the site on the present day Hellfire Club mansion, located at what is now
Fifth Avenue on Manhattan's East Side, only a few blocks away from the
Avengers Mansion.

Today's Hellfire Club counts among its members the wealthy, the powerful, and
the celebrated from virtually all over the world. Membership is by invitation
only, but such invitations are rarely turned down, for membership in the
Hellfire Club is universally regarded as the ultimate status symbol.

As far as the general public and, indeed, most of the Club's members are
concerned, the Hellfire Club is a thoroughly respectable upper class social
organization principally devoted to giving spectacular parties. It is also
generally known that these parties serve as a means for members of the social,
economic, and political elite to meet unofficially to discuss matters of
mutual interest, and to strike political or business alliances.

The Club's highest ranking members belong to its Inner Circle and dress in
late Eighteenth Century costumes for Circle meetings and other formal
occasions involving the Club. Inner Circle members hold positions named
after chess pieces: the leaders are King and Queens, followed by Bishops,
Knights, Rooks, and Pawns. It is possible for there to be two Kings (a Black
King and a White King) or two Queens (Black and White) in office
simultaneously. However, such situations almost invariably lead to power
struggles, and so there is usually only one King and one Queen at a time. If a
member of one faction of the Inner Circle displaces a member of another
faction as King or Queen, he or she usually names his rank after the opposite
color to his predecessor's. Hence, when Sebastian Shaw deposed the most
recent former leader, a White King, he became a Black King.

Unknown to most of the Club members, the Inner Circle members are engaged in a
conspiracy to dominate the world through the accumulation of economic power and
political influence. The Inner Circle commands great financial resources,
highly advanced technology, and a large body of mercenaries (many of whom wear
red and blue uniforms with masks), all of which are used in their subversive
activities.

The previous leader of the Inner Circle, then known as the Council of the
Chosen, was a White King who threw the Council's financial and technological
support behind Dr. Stephen Lang's attempts to capture superhuman mutants with
Sentinel robots. Lang's endeavor ended in disaster, and Black Bishop Sebastian
Shaw and White Queen Emma Frost seized the opportunity to turn the White King
out of office. Shaw became the new Black King, leader of the Council, which
he renamed the Inner Circle, and master of the entire Hellfire Club. As
leader, Shaw worked closely with his ally Frost, the White Queen.

Shaw and Frost are both not only heads of major corporations but also
superhuman mutants. They gave other superhuman mutants positions of power
within the Inner Circle. Moreover, Frost was also headmistress of the
Massachusetts Academy, a private school in New England for which she
recruited adolescent superhuman mutants as well as the sons and daughters of
the elite so that she might bring them under the Inner Circle's influence.
It is at the Academy that Frost trained a team of adolescent superhuman
mutants known as the Hellions.

Shaw's corporation, Shaw Industries, had a secret contract to build Sentinels
for the United States government's covert Project Wideawake, whose goal was
to hunt down, capture, and study superhuman mutants. Shaw hoped to use his
position with the project for the Inner Circle's own ends. (None of the Inner
Circle members are known to be mutants either by the United States government
or by the general public).

Some years ago, the mutant Jason Wyngarde, otherwise known as Mastermind,
sought admission into the Inner Circle. To prove his value, Wyngarde
mesmerized the first member of the X-Men to be known as Phoenix into
willingly becoming the Club's Black Queen. Although Wyngarde believed that
Phoenix was Jean Grey, also known as Marvel Girl, it now appears that Phoenix
was actually an immensely powerful energy being who had taken on a human
guise and persona patterned after Grey's. Wyngarde's tampering with Phoenix's
mind backfired by triggering her transformation into the malevolent Dark
Phoenix, who rendered him catatonic. The Inner Circle therefore withdrew
its invitation to him to become a member.

Later, Shaw survived an attempted challenge to his leadership of the Circle
by its renegade White Bishop, Donald Pierce. Pierce kidnapped a young woman
known only as Tessa, whose photographic memory enabled her to function as a
living storehouse of information about matters of importance to the Circle
for Shaw. Professor Charles Xavier and the New Mutants defeated Pierce. Tessa
returned to the Inner Circle, which expelled Pierce from the Club.

Still more recently Friedrich von Roehm, a member of the Inner Circle,
sponsored the superhuman mutant and sorceress known as Selene for membership
in the Circle. Selene has since become the Circle's Black Queen.

In recent years the Hellfire Club's Inner Circle has clashed several times
with the mutant X-Men, and the enmity between the two groups persists to
this day.

Characters and Activity

Complete Team Roster

Image Codename Real Name
NA Cybermancer NA

Donald_Pierce_Earth-616_002.jpg Donald Pierce Donald Pierce

699923-whitequeen2_8_09.jpg Emma Frost Emma Frost

empath.jpg Empath Manuel de la Rocha

78649-22579-enchantress.jpg Enchantress Amora

1012471-harry_leland_01_large.jpg Harry Leland Harold Leland

793124-xmentheladiesmastermind.png Lady Mastermind Regan Wyngarde

1466968-1448764_mag_super.jpg Magneto Magnus/Erik Lehnsherr

SSHAW.jpg Sebastian Shaw Sebastian Shaw

722px-Selene_X-Force_23.jpg Selene Selene Gallio

201129-11359-sage.jpg Tessa Tessa

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